Brain fog

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Brain fog is a term for the "woolly" sensation of a physical obstruction to clear thinking in the brain, often extended to apply in general to neurocognitive symptoms experienced by many people who suffer from diseases such as ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, amongst others.


Brain fog can be brought on by upregulated cytokines, neurotransmitter misregulation, or psychological trauma amongst others. Hence it shares common etiology with some mental disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, etc.

There have been no studies to explore the causes of brain fog, but since it shares so many of its symptoms with mental disorders it's reasonable to assume that brain fog may be due to frontal lobe hypometabolism, or temporal lobe dysfunction which occur in unipolar depression.

Differentiating Brain Fog from other Disorders

Brain fog is not recognized by medical science, and there have been no clinical studies to prove its existence. Some clinicans maintain that brain fog is a form of conversion or somatization disorder. Since brain fog is very similar to symptoms of mental illness, it's possible that persons who report brain fog are actually suffering from mental disorder including depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. In particular brain fog is very similar to the decrease in concentration in depression and the depressive phase of bipolar disorder and thought blocking which occurs in schizophrenia.



It can be a symptom of other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or clinical depression.

The term brain fog is also often used to describe the relevant symptom or symptoms of inattentive ADHD or resulting from chemotherapy.[1].

Many sufferers of the medical condition Superior canal dehiscence syndrome (SCDS) report experiencing brain fog.

Brain fog involves persistent or episodic cognitive dysfunction, and may be associated with forgetfulness, confusion, slowed thinking, distractability, depersonalization, the inability to remember the correct words when speaking or writing (dysphasia or aphasia).

Brain fog is so named because the sufferer can feel like a cloud literally surrounds him or her that reduces the speed at which things can be recognized or clearly seen. Sufferers describe it as "feeling like a hangover" or "zoning out" Brain fog may promote feelings of detachment (depersonalization), discouragement and depression.

Imaging Studies

SPECT, PET and brain MRI scans can be used to determine brain functionality. Neuropsychiatric tests may also be performed.


Treatment with psychotherapy is sometimes recommended. However many M.E sufferers have found psychotherapy unhelpful and exhausting, preferring illness management techniques such as a brief nap at the first signs of brainfog. If a more serious pathology is present psychopharmacology may be beneficial. Neurofeedback is also showing to be effective in the treatment of brain fog.[citation needed]

See also